LDS (Mormon) Temples and Freemasonry

What I was taught: The temple ceremony is one of the most important things instituted by Joseph Smith when he restored the gospel. Going through the temple ceremony and taking out your endowments is a necessary ordinance for exaltation.

Some LDS have heard that the LDS temple ceremony may have some similarities with Masonry and the reason is that the Masons originally had the temple ceremony from Bible times, which has since been corrupted.

The apostle Heber C. Kimball, a Mason himself said, “We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 13 November, 1858, 1085, LDS archives; see also Stanley B. Kimball, “Heber C. Kimball and Family, The Nauvoo Years, BrighamYoung University Studies 15 (Summer 1975): 458. See also David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, Smith Research Associates, San Francisco, 1994, 56.)

To anyone that has knowledge of both the LDS Temple Ceremony (especially the pre-1990 temple ceremony) and Mason Rites it is very apparent that they have many similarities. Many things are exactly the same. Even knowledgeable Mormons admit that the endowment ceremony (especially in its earlier versions) contains many details that are similar to the Masonic initiation rites of Joseph Smith’s day. The symbols, oaths, handclasps, and terminology resemble the Masonic ritual in hundreds of ways.

“The clearest evidence of Masonic influence on the Nauvoo temple ceremony is a comparison of texts. Three elements of the Nauvoo endowment and its contemporary Masonic ritual resemble each other so closely that they are sometimes identical. These are the tokens, signs, and penalties.” (David Buerger, Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, Chapter 3: Joseph Smith’s Ritual)

“Because of their Masonic characters the ceremonies of the temple are sacred and not for the public.” October 15, 1911; Messages of First Presidency, 4: 250

Even today the ‘Masonic emblems’ such as the compass, square, level, pentagram, all-seeing eye, sun, moon, stars are displayed on the walls of the LDS Temples. The temple ceremonies were actually performed in the local Masonic Halls in the early days of the Church.

Joseph was initiated as an entered apprentice Mason on March 15, 1842, and received the fellow craft and master degrees the following day. He introduced the full endowment ceremony which included the secret signs, tokens, passwords, and penalties, just seven weeks later on May 4, 1842 (see History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 1-2).

There was no effort in the early history of the church to conceal any similarities between Masonic rituals and the Mormon Temple Endowment. Indeed, men like Heber C. Kimball said that:

“Bro Joseph Ses Masonary was taken from preasthood but has become degen[e]rated. But menny things are perfect.” (Letter from Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, June 17, 1842)

As Mervin Hogan, a Mormon Mason, explained in 1991:

“[L]ittle room for doubt can exist in the mind of an informed, objective analyst that the Mormon Temple Endowment and the rituals of ancient Craft Masonry are seemingly intimately and definitely involved.” (Mervin B. Hogan, Freemasonry and Mormon Ritual (Salt Lake City: author, 1991), p. 22)

The Mormon Temple endowment ceremony is without a doubt taken from the Masonic ceremonies Joseph Smith participated in just weeks before he introduced the temple endowment. The grips, tokens, covenants, secret words, keys, etc. were word for word the same when first introduced. Members who were Masons previous to Joseph joining the fraternal order unashamedly referred to the Mormon endowment as “celestial masonry.” Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp. 279-283

Note that the endowment conducted in the Kirtland Temple prior to Joseph’s induction into Masonry apparently didn’t contain any of these elements. It was only after his induction that the Masonic rituals found their way into the endowment conducted in the Nauvoo Temple. These Masonic signs and tokens are considered critical by the LDS church, as the individual is believed to be required to present them before being allowed into the Celestial Kingdom.

Joseph’s introduction of the endowment ceremony came two months after he had been initiated into Freemasonry.

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Mason ceremonies do not date back to Solomon’s time (around 1000 B.C.) from the Old Testament. The Mason rituals date at least two thousand years after Solomon. In the last 100 years most Masons now know this but it may have been widely believed in 1800s that they actually descended from Solomon’s temple.

Despite claims that Masonry extends back to Solomon’s Temple, in fact the rites of Masonry emerged around the thirteenth century. It originated in Britain as a trade guild, though it incorporated symbols dating back to various cults in antiquity. Masonry thus comes from an era that LDS doctrine associates with the great apostasy.

Even more disturbing is that the Masonry rituals that most closely resemble the LDS temple ceremony have their origins much more recently – only the 1700s and nowhere near the thousands of years old that would be from Solomon’s time

LDS historian David John Buerger conceded that there is no validity to Joseph
Smith’s claim that Masonic rituals were of ancient origin:

“Freemasonry was a development of the craft guilds during the construction of the great European cathedrals during the tenth to seventeenth centuries.

After the Middle Ages, lodges in Scotland and Great Britain began to accept honorary members and worked out rudimentary ceremonies to distinguish members of trade organizations. In 1717 four fraternal lodges, perhaps actual masons’ lodges, united as the Grand Lodge of England, considered the beginning of organized Freemasonry or ‘speculative Masonry.’ The order spread quickly to other countries and included such prominent adherents as Mozart, Voltaire, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Some historians believe that Masons staged the Boston Tea Party.

Latter-day Saints may feel that Masonry constitutes a biblical-times source of uncorrupted knowledge from which the temple ceremony could be drawn. However, historians of Freemasonry generally agree that the trigradal system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, as practiced in Nauvoo, cannot be traced further back than the eighteenth century. According to Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones, two knowledgeable twentieth-century historians, it is ‘highly probable’ that the system of Masonry practiced at the organization of the Grand Lodge in London ‘did not consist of three distinct degrees.’ They warn, ‘It would probably not be safe to fix a date earlier than 1723 or 1725 for the origin’ of the trigradal system. ‘Accepted Masonry underwent gradual changes throughout a period of years stretching from well before 1717 to well after that date…. The earliest speculative phase of Freemasonry may be regarded as beginning about 1730…. Though some symbolism had doubtless crept into Masonry by that date, it would not appear to have reached its full development for another forty or fifty years.’ ”

(The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, pp. 45-46.)

FAIR admits that Masonry does not date back to Bible Times. They openly state that the Masonry Rituals that resemble the LDS Temple Ceremony date from the 1700s and definitely were not used in Solomon’s temple.

If you go to FAIR’s official site and search for ‘Masonry’ you will find many articles and quotes that support the fact that the Masonry rituals clearly do not date from Solomon’s time. Here’s a few:

“Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence to support a continuous functioning line from Solomon’s Temple to the present. We know what went on in Solomon’s Temple; it’s the ritualistic slaughter of animals.”

“The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry” by Greg Kearney

fairlds.org (scroll to the last page)”Masonry, while claiming a root in antiquity, can only be reliably traced to medieval stone tradesmen.”

“It is clear that Freemasonry and its traditions played a role in the development of the endowment ritual.”

John Lynch, head of FAIR confirms in a podcast on mormonstories.org that the Masons did not have the temple ceremony from Solomon’s time. To listen, go to http://mormonstories.org/?page_id=102 – I’m not sure which of the three parts it’s on, but Brother Lynch admits to John Dehlin that many commonly-held beliefs of the members are untrue – specifically mentioned are that there were NOT more women than men in the church when they practiced polygamy and that the Masons did not really have the temple ceremony from Solomon’s time. He even jokes that ‘anti-Mormons’ will use what he said against him.

The Bible does not support anything from the LDS Temple Ceremony being in Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple dealt with things very foreign to the LDS endowment ceremony such as animal sacrifices. None of the ordinances performed in LDS temples, such as endowments, baptism for the dead, and eternal marriage, were performed in the Biblical temple; its function was making atonement for sins as a precondition to worshipping the true and living God. Try this link for a walk-through of a day in the life of the priests of the Second Temple (the one that Jesus knew):

http://www.templeinstitute.org/day_in_life/foreword.htm

It’s based entirely on the detailed Jewish records that have been handed down long after the temple itself was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. There is plenty of ancient contemporary evidence to back up this account. There appear to be very few points of resemblance with LDS practice today, which is far more closely linked to FreemasonryIf the Temple ceremony came from Masonry, and the Masons originally had the original temple ceremony back in Solomon’s day, and it slowly degenerated over the centuries to its present state, then logically the further you go back, the closer the Mason’s ceremony should get to The LDS restored temple ceremony. Instead the temple ceremony matches the Mason’s ceremony as it existed in the 1830s which is the one Joseph was exposed to.

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The significant changes made in 1990 include:

Elimination of the penalties associated with the signs and tokens. After 1990, patrons were no longer required to pantomime their own deaths by slashing their throats or disemboweling themselves by slicing a knife across their stomachs.

The protestant ministers were no longer referred to as agents of Satan.

Changing of words from the Adamic Language to English.

The elimination of the Five Points of Fellowship.

Perhaps the answer to why the Five Points of Fellowship was ever in the temple ceremony to begin with is that it is in the Mason’s rituals. It is copied virtually word-for-word from the Masons.

Is God so trivial he would forbid entry into His presence because of not knowing a secret handshake? Or a secret name? Or secret, memorized words? Would he really care if you knew where the thumb is placed?

Generally most people believe that good people get into heaven and bad people go to hell more or less. But requiring that a two hour ceremony be performed on your behalf where you learn the secret handshakes and passwords needed to give to the angels guarding the entrance to heaven seems like a bit of a stretch if you really think about it.

Shouldn’t your entrance into God’s Kingdom be based on how you lived your life and what’s in your heart, and not dependant on your knowledge of the signs and tokens you learned in the temple?

When Jesus walked the earth, he never alluded to anything like this in all his published sermons. So how important could the temple ceremony really be?

Something tells us that if you didn’t receive the endowment in the temple by yourself or on your behalf, and that you lived a good life, you would fair just as well in the afterlife as you would have if you knew the secret handshakes and passwords

Although many naive LDS members believe that the Masons had the original temple ceremony, thus explaining any similarities between the Masonry Rituals and the LDS Temple ceremony, the more knowledgeable LDS apologists and faithful LDS historians currently admit that is not true.

FAIR states very clearly in many articles on their website that the Masons did not have the temple ceremony from Solomon’s time. They boldly admit that Masonry, while claiming a root in antiquity, can only be reliably traced to mediaeval stone tradesmen.

Both the Chairman of FAIR, John Lynch, and Greg Kearney who is FAIR’s resident expert on Masonry and the LDS Temple ceremony, clearly admit that those that claim that Masonry had the original temple ceremony are 100% in error. FAIR admits this justification for explaining the similarities between Masonry and the Temple is a myth.

If the largest pro-LDS organization admits that Masonry did not have the temple ceremony from Solomon’s time, then that’s good enough for us. Of course there’s also much additional evidence from nonLDS sources that confirm this as well.

Some LDS defenders of the faith say that Joseph used the Masons’ ceremony as many brethren were already familiar with it and then he added God’s true message into it.

What if you saw people playing hopscotch and you told them that hopscotch was really a divine worship service practiced in Solomon’s temple but has become degenerated over time, and you were going to show people how it really is supposed to be. You told everyone what the squares and other objects you hopped over really meant, and you changed a couple things but swore everyone to secrecy that they could never tell anyone about the newly revealed holy hopscotch game. And perhaps somewhere between hopping from the 4th to 5th square you added something divine that God wanted the people to learn how to do.

Does that make any sense? Why would God want Joseph to use the ridiculousness of a hopscotch game or the Masons’ Rites to teach eternal truths to his people? If God was trying to convey something meaningful to Joseph, he made a mockery of it. Modern prophets have tried to figure it out and changed some stuff but no one, not even the prophets, knows what exactly this ceremony is suppose to be.

The temple endowment ceremony seems so foreign to the nice, friendly worship services we attend every Sunday in the LDS chapels. The temple ceremony seems almost pagan in nature. It’s like a ritual we would expect the Druids to practice. Very few members are really spiritually uplifted when they first go through the temple to take out their endowments. Most feel confused, shocked and not quite sure what to make of their experience in what is supposed to be one of the holiest places on earth.

Although there are many other nonLDS historical sources that support FAIR’s view that Masonry did not have the original temple ceremony, there is really no sense in arguing the point further as FAIR now freely admits that LDS can no longer make the claim that Masonry descended from Solomon’s time.

Note: Although we often disagree with FAIR, we admire their intellectual honesty in this instance regarding Masonry, and thereby removing a commonly-held LDS explanation for the Temple/Masonry problem.It’s not just FAIR. LDS historian David John Buerger agrees with them. LDS Mason and Masonry expert Greg Kearney, historians in general and the Masons themselves all know that the Masons did not have their rites and ceremonies from anywhere close to Solomon’s time. The LDS Church is of course silent on the issue, so most faithful members still believe the Masonry/Solomon’s temple myth as they are not aware that the LDS apologists and faithful LDS historians no longer support that position.

We’ve been taught that the purpose of the temple is to learn the key words, signs and tokens to enable us to enter into heaven. In the LDS handbook Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, that the Church still provides to members that attend ‘temple prep’ classes, the following quote is given by Brigham Young, and often quoted by modern prophets as well including the Oct, 2007 Ensign pp 20-21:

“Let me give you the definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.” (emphasis added)
– Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p.31. (see also 2:315; 5:133; 6:63, 154-55; 8:339; 9:25-26, 91; 10:172; 11:27; 12:164 18:132; 19:250)

The signs and tokens are virtually identical as in the Masonry Rites. There is no mistaking this. The handshakes (tokens) and signs (hand motions) are taken from Masonry.

So if the main purpose of the temple is to learn the signs and tokens, and the signs and tokens came directly from Masonry, then just how could this really be the most important, divine ceremony from Heavenly Father?

We were all very surprised when we first took out our endowments in the temple. Everyone told us it would be such a spiritual experience. Many of us expected to learn how to be better people or how to be more like Christ. Some of us were so pumped up that we anticipated seeing spirits thanking us for doing their temple work or hear the whispers of dear departed relatives.

However, we were shocked to find out that in the most holiest of ceremonies, it boiled down to learning the passwords and secret handshakes to get into heaven. We have studied the ceremony, prayed about it, but just can’t get over what the ceremony really is.

If it’s all symbolic, then it’s truly meaningless as no one knows what it really means. If the Temple ceremony is truly inspired by Heavenly Father, then it’s a necessary work that we all need to be engaged in. However, if it was just a ceremony that Joseph Smith took from the Masons and altered a bit, then it is truly the biggest waste of time ever created.

Post is a summary taken from  http://www.mormonthink.com/templeweb.htm

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7 Responses to LDS (Mormon) Temples and Freemasonry

  1. Julie Mann says:

    Very interesting and thoughtful.

    If you are disillusioned with Mormonism are you also fearful of leaving the church because of what might happen to you?

  2. Reason says:

    Thank you for this post, I really enjoy your blog. This post reminded me of one of my favorites here: http://cognitivedissenter.com/?p=2282

    Also, if you haven’t read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, I recommend it. It explains the history of the church from a historical context. Given that we now know Joseph Smith kept his polygamy secret throughout his entire life, it is not hard to understand what motives he had for instituting a death penalty oath for revealing a polygamous temple ordinance. When you begin to see things for what they really were by asking yourself, “if there was no God directing Joseph Smith, why did he make it up?” you get a really interesting insight to his actions.

    The revealing thing about it all is that prior to Joseph’s “revelation” of polygamy, anyone could enter the temple and participate and view the marriages there. It was only after his sealing of teenage girls to himself and let others do the same, that he began forcing people to keep it secret with oaths. It makes me sick to ever think I participated in his copied masonic rituals – it’s a throwback to his twisted reality that now thousands of well meaning families have gotten sucked into.

    I cringe to think that every temple endownment ceremony is a nod to Joseph’s cover up for his sex acts with young girls. Anyone who willingly participates in the ordinance after finding out Joseph’s sordid history endorses Joseph’s sexual deviancy. Makes me sick. I’m just happy I resigned and had my name removed from the records. It’s never too late.

  3. Steve Davis says:

    In August, 1969 I attended the Salt Lake Temple to take out my personal endowments before I served an LDS Mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Apostle Howard W. Hunter was my “escort”. All during the ceremony I objected and raised my arms up to the square, not willing to do any other blood-oath promises. Every time, Apostle Hunter took me out of the ceremony and I opened up various scripture passages, showing to him that each “oath” was Satanic. Finally at the end of the ceremony I refused to swear everything to the “Church”. This refusal caused me to go and meet the First Presidency, which I then opened up the Old Testament warning, Exodus 20:3-5 (Ten Commandments) and told the Church President I didn’t want my family cursed up to four generations, because I would have put the “Church” ahead of God. I obtained a written permission from the First Presidency that I could consecrate everything to the Lord.

    In 1989 I accepted to serve as a BYU Bishop under the interview of President Ezra Taft Benson and Apostle Howard W. Hunter, one month before the famous “pride” talk of President Benson — claiming the Church and members are cursed because they don’t read the Book of Mormon and don’t understand the warnings therein. I served the BYU 1st Stake for over 5+ years and was released.

    Then in 1993 Zions First National Bank embezzled $40,000 from our family Orange Julius at University Mall, Orem. Zions board member Neal A. Maxwell in December, 1993 met us and confessed and resigned from the Board. He repented by giving us all the documents showing that the LDS Church leadership is under a secret agreement with the Federal Reserve System since 1960 when “Every Member A Missionary” was incorporated and the Mormon Church sold it’s wholly-owned bank.

    Joseph Smith repented of Polygamy and sought Nauvoo Stake President to hold Church Court against all who practiced it. This is very well documented with the RLDS/Community of Christ records. Between 1830-1835 ONE GOD was taught, namely that Jesus is Heavenly Father in Flesh (Mosiah 15:1-7, Alma 11:21-40, etc).

    FAIR has obtained a vast amount of information I obtained from LDS President Harold B. Lee and Howard W. Hunter back lin September, 1973 about the evils of Freemasonry and the LDS Temple Rituals being totally of Satan, as warned in D&C 124:47-48 (Nauvoo Temple curse).

    http://www.mormonstruth.org
    http://www.stopzion.com

  4. Art Fern says:

    This is excellent and confirms what I have been telling members who were asking and close to me. There is no aberrraba-cadaberra just Joseph’s taking what must have been a truly wonderful experience, to be learning Masonic ritual and using it as a vehicle to bring on the endowment. Whether he was wrong or right, that is the story, the only one that makes sense and provides witnesses and documentation. Next up, let’s move into reality again and distance the church from the insane use of Noah’s Flood/Tower of Babel as history. There is Zero chance that the earth is 7,000 years old, that all life was killed/murdered 4500 years ago, and started over. And languages, we know of 400 within the Aboriginal people of Australia going back 50,000 years. Third step, the Book of Mormon in IT’S promised PLAIN language with today’s word use, removing the repetition and bloat. I think that a full blown, open and honest study will be very refreshing to the world, since I know of no faith that encourages such discussions. Just stick with the truth, the rest will work itself out on its own.

  5. vfanrj says:

    Growing up next to BYU in a ward full of faculty, the first time in my life that I ever doubted the Church’s claim as The True Church was the day I received my Endowment. My first thought was this Endowment was not of God. I still went on a mission but the Endowment never settled well with me.

    It was the proliferation of the Internet that by 1997 I came to the inescapable conclusion that the Masonic Endowment showed the Church to be a fraud. I also came to the conclusion that the BYU professors, whom I explicitly trusted to give me honest answers, would always play the role of apologist, even at the expense of honesty.

    So by age 40 I learned some pretty hard lessons.

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